Though it didn't begin making powered two-wheelers until 1904, Sachs traces its roots back to the Hercules cycle factory founded in 1886, making 2008 its 122th year in business. But for an understanding liquidator, and the determination of its management team led by Hartmut Huhn not to let the company die, it might been still around.
Sachs declared itself insolvent and went into voluntary administration in July 2006, just three months after celebrating its 120th birthday with a big party at its Nuremberg base.
Ninety-nine and a half percent of the Sachs equity had been acquired in February 2006 by New Superior Ltd, a holding company controlled by Hong Kong investors fronting for China's Huanan motorcycle company, one of the country's older manufacturers.Founded in 1967, its 2000 employees currently produce about 500,000 powered two-wheelers each year in the company's 120,000 Guangzhou factory under the FYM, Sachs and Flying Eagle brands, as well as Hyundai cars on license from Korea.
Six months after the Chinese takeover, Sachs went into administration because it didn't have the cash to make a compulsory 700,000 Euro annual contribution to the pension fund of its former Hercules cycle factory employees. This came in spite of promised 10 million Euro investment in the company held out by New Superior boss Patrick Lieheld at the time of the takeover, which Sachs CEO Corrado Savazzi had declared would secure the future of the historic German firm.
But manufacture of the 50cc and 125cc versions of the MadAss, the only current Sachs bike models, had already been transferred to Huanan's factory in China's Guangdong Province, along with five Sachs engineers working there full time, this left Nuremberg plant supposedly as an R&D base, plus a distribution center for Huanan's products in Europe, as well as the range of Taiwanese-made SYM scooters for which Sachs were agents in Germany.
Instead, Huanan demolished most of the existing Sachs factory in Nuremberg, looking to reap the rewards of large-scale property redevelopment of the site.
Production of the Sachs MadAss had been transferred to China, and while administrator Volker Boehm had hopes of safeguarding the interests of the firm's 44 employees, it seemed very unlikely that Sachs could recover.
Thanks to dedicated work by Hahn and his team, and a positive approach by Mr. Boehm, which enabled the company to develop new models such as the well-received XTC125, in order to present itself as a viable proposition worth rescuing, Sachs has now indeed been saved via a buyout of the company's remaining assets by its German management, and will continue business operations of the original factory.
Heading the line-up will be the Supermoto-style X-road, the acclaimed prototype Sachs ever developed, the Beast.
Conceived by Target Design, creators of the Suzuki Katana, among other iconic designs, the acclaimed ultra-minimalist Sachs Beast, that was a serial visitor to several shows in the past, was the ultimade stripped-out streetfighter, a fact which created the market-place frustration that Sachs had created this superb bike but couldn't find the engine or, perhaps, the money either to put it into production.